Monday, September 10, 2012

10 on the 10th: quality literature

each month on the tenth shimelle and friends blog about ten things.  as shimelle puts it, "a list of absolutely anything, as long as it’s ten."  since the monthly series began i have wanted to post my ten favorite books as books have had a major influence in forming my character.  my very first novel was my sister's copy of the black stallion.  i accidentally dropped it in the bathtub.  oops.  i was that kid who read at the lunch table all through middle school and high school.  i am only thankful i actually had friends who appreciated my eccentricities.

the following is a list of ten of my favorite books.  they are in no particular order except that number one is indeed number one.

to kill a mockingbird - the best novel ever written.  i average reading this one probably every other year.  with each reading i discover something new.  the subtle southern humor slays me.  i can't read the final courtroom scene aloud without reading it to myself first to prevent public tears.  this book defines me.  i am scout.  i am jem.  i am atticus.  i am tom.  i am mayella.  i am maycomb.  i am boo radley.

the grapes of wrath - in the seventh grade i had to write a report on my favorite author.  i chose john steinbeck.  ironically, we had read the red pony in our literature book the year before and i hated it.  but all of john's stuff i've read since has been solid.  tortilla flat and the moon is down were favorites for a long time.  i guess i held off reading the grapes of wrath for so long because it was so big.  i'm glad i did.  i'm sure i got more out of it as an adult.  nobel prize winning material indeed.

out of the dust - i serendipitously picked up this book just as i finished the grapes of wrath.  a librarian friend of mine recommended it.  what an amazing literary experience that was.  the two books dovetail in amazing ways.  i also fell in love with freeverse poetry with this book.  i'm way impressed with those who can say more with less.  the house on mango street is another fabulous book in this genre.  i'd almost put william faulkner's the sound and the fury in here too.  excellent.

a prayer for owen meany - i would say what i call modern american classic is my favorite genre.  this book is something else.  the foreshadowing in it is eerie.  the ending left me speechless.  literally.  stunning read.

the last lion alone - i can't even recall how i ended up reading the last lion and the last lion alone.  they must have been suggested to me as they are both more massive than the grapes of wrath.  the reading was dry and lengthy quite often, but these are books i am glad i read.  they left me with an overwhelming sense of awe with this man and the power of one human life to shape humanity's destiny.  i believe democracy owes a debt of gratitude to sir winston churchill.  i remember powering through to the end on an airplane and the guy sitting next to me asking me what i was reading.  i enthusiastically told him and gushed as to how much i was looking forward to reading the end of the story.  he had to break the news to me gently that this author had passed away and not written the war years.  i was very much let down.  i found a biography on fdr during the war years that was nice, but it just didn't compare.  i need to read more biographies so i can be inspired to greatness.

american chica - i love books written by those from other cultures.  i think this is because of the line of work i'm in.  or it could just be that i've always felt that i didn't quite fit into my own culture.  i picked this one up off a suggestion on jill sprott's blog and it was a gem.  memoirs of a geisha and the joy luck club are equally lovely.  i think i might like three cups of tea too.  i shall put it on my list.

the return of the king - my brother-in-law introduced me to tolkien in my tween years.  i was consumed by fantasy fiction for many years after.  i believe j.r.r. tolkien set the bar high though.  no one has done the epic battle between good and evil quite like him.

the story of jumping mouse - a well written picture book is a gift.  this particular one i discovered in a basal reader while teaching third grade in guatemala.  i may have stopped in the middle of the read aloud to pick a scab to mask my watery eyes.  that'll teach me to read a book to kids before i've read it myself.  the velveteen rabbit is also way up there.  as are all the charming tales written by adam say.

the watson's go to birmingham - 1963 - this book is a joy to teach.  it's hilarious, it has every literary device imaginable, and it has a poignant message that is unexpected and stops students in their tracks.  it's a newbery honor.  i collected newberys for a while.  newbery award winners are always excellent reading material.

the hunger games - this trilogy was amazing.  i'm glad i didn't catch wind of it till all three were out.  it would have been painful to have to wait at all between books.  with this series, i think everyone who reads them sees something different.  what i saw was the amazing love story.  to me it seems to be a retelling of another love story of read.  peeta seems so familiar.

and know that you know my literary character, i'd love any suggestions you might have.  :)


  1. I'm in total agreement about To Kill A Mockingbird. I've read that book many times, and still love getting caught up in the story.

  2. I've read a few on your list - the first and the last included. I have reviewed a few books on my blog - I use it to keep track of what I read and I did a Book Top Ten last year

  3. I love "to Kill a Mockingbird" and "A Prayer for Owen Meany" - I will have to check a few others on that list out.I would suggest the Secret History for your reading list. It is by Donna Tratt.